Several states launch investigation into Instagram’s impact on children and young adults

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(Photo Illustration by Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images)

Nashville-Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III is leading a nationwide investigation into Meta Platforms, Inc., formerly known as Facebook, for providing and promoting its social media platform – Instagram – to children and young adults despite knowing that such use is associated with mental health harms. Attorneys General across the country are examining whether the company violated state consumer protection laws and put the public at risk.

“This activity is harming our young people. Meta’s own documents show that. So they know what’s going on- they know the mental health risks for young users on Instagram, most notably teenage girls,” said General Slatery. “What we have seen from our research, media accounts and even Congressional testimony confirms our position that Meta is not going to self-correct or police itself. An investigation by the states is necessary and underway.”

The investigation targets, among other things, Meta’s manipulative techniques to increase the frequency and duration of engagement by young users and the resulting harms caused by such extended engagement.

Today’s announcement follows recent reports revealing that Meta’s own internal research shows that using Instagram is associated with increased risks of physical and mental health harms on young people, including depression, eating disorders, and even suicide.

In May, Tennessee led a bipartisan coalition of 44 attorneys general urging Facebook to abandon its plans to launch a version of Instagram for children under the age of 13.

Leading the investigation, involving a broad group of states across the country, is a bipartisan coalition of attorneys general from Tennessee, Nebraska, Massachusetts, California, Florida, Kentucky, New Jersey, and Vermont.

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